Ivan Yaco started playing basketball in fifth grade, after seeing his dad playing with his friends and watching NBA games at home. He continued playing throughout high school and college and now puts his love of the game into player development with Ivy’s Breakfast Club, working as an Assistant Coach for the Capilano University Men’s Basketball team, and being a youth leader in his community.
We are inspired by Ivan’s determination to pass on the lessons that he’s learned to the next generation and to help the youth that he works with tap into their potential on and off the court. We recently spoke to Ivan about his life spent playing and coaching basketball, and what it takes to learn to play ball.
Tell us about your history with sports and fitness.
I started playing basketball in fifth grade, but I didn’t really take it seriously until I met my high school coach, Jeff Gourley. I learned a lot from him about the mental and physical aspects of the game. After high school, I ended up playing basketball for two years at Langara College. During my time there, I learned a lot about weight training, plyometrics, and yoga. After that, I went to the Philippines to pursue playing basketball professionally. That was a great experience, getting to work out and practice with different teams. I learned a lot of lessons on that trip.
Tell us about Ivy’s Breakfast Club.
Ivy’s Breakfast Club is a movement I started years ago in the Mount Pleasant community of Vancouver. It started with a group of young adults, including myself, who had aspirations to play basketball at a high level. We were determined to get out of our comfort zones and train in a way we had never done before. The term “breakfast club” was inspired by early morning skill training sessions that became a routine for high school and college players for years to come.
Why did you start Ivy’s Breakfast Club?
I started it because I want to relay to the next generation what I had learned on and off the court. My goal is to help the youth tap into their true potential as an athlete and a person. I just hope that Ivy’s Breakfast Club can inspire and empower people to be great at whatever they want to do in life.
“My goal is to help the youth tap into their true potential as an athlete and a person.”
What are the key skills, both physical and mental, that one can gain playing basketball?
Physically, you can learn different types of footwork, ball-handling skills, finishing / layups, and shooting. Those are the basic fundamentals. As your skills improve, you’ll learn how to perform all those basic fundamentals together and use them in games.
Basketball requires a lot of repetition depending on what level you’re trying to get to. There’s a lot of mental toughness, focus, and patience involved in the game. Communication and leadership are also very important when it comes to winning games as a team.
What advice would you give to someone who is new to playing basketball?
Basketball is a beautiful sport that brings people together. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what skill level, gender, size, or ability. Anyone can play the game. I’ve met a lot of amazing people who had never touched a basketball in their life. As long as it brings you joy and happiness, go for it!
Why is movement important to you?
Movement brings me life. It keeps me happy and healthy – emotionally, physically, and mentally.
Besides basketball, what other ways do you like to move?
I love riding my bike, hot yoga, and swimming. I’m starting to like going for runs too.
Why is coaching / training important to you?
Looking back to when I was younger, all of my coaches had a tremendous impact on me. They helped me so much on and off the court. They taught me a lot about life and how I can use basketball as a tool to have a meaningful life. I met a lot of amazing people because of them. My present day life wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for them.
Now, it’s my turn to inspire the next generation and help them succeed.
Ivan Yaco is a Vancouver-based basketball skills trainer, the founder of Ivy’s Breakfast Club, and an assistant coach for Capilano University Men’s Basketball team. He also works as a youth leader for the City of Vancouver Parks Board and a part-time childcare leader at Strathcona Community Centre, and uses his platform to connect and inspire youth from all walks of life. For more on Ivan and the work he does through Ivy’s Breakfast Club, follow @ivy4three and @ivybreakfastclub.